Because I perform school assembly programs and motivational reading programs for a living people assume I am an extrovert. It's a logical conclusion. I mean, when you see one of my summer library reading programs I'm running around in costume, singing songs, arguing with puppets, screaming feigned shock at magic tricks, and laughing harder than the kids at all the funny stuff that happens while we talk about books and the power of reading.
But I'll tell you a little secret about me…that's not what I'm really like.
I love to eat lunch with the librarians that hire me because most librarians and media specialists seem to relate to me pretty well. We talk about favorite books, favorite authors, and sometimes we don't really talk much at all.
I remember sitting in on a lunch conversation that consisted of other performing artists including some professional speakers. Someone asked the members of the group to raise their hand if they felt they were introverts. Everyone raised their hand.
Now, that's not always true. I know some performers who really NEED to be on stage. They thrive there and WANT to be there. And I guess I do, too. But it's a little bit different for me.
One of the guys at the lunch table that day made a comment that stuck in my mind. "Extroverts spend time with others to gain the strength they need to get through the times they are alone. Introverts spend time alone to gain the strength they need to get through the times with others."
While I don't think I need to psyche myself up to get on stage, or even have any reservations or trouble doing what I do, I also am very comfortable spending an entire day (or two or three, though I don't remember having that luxury since my college days) doing nothing but sitting alone, reading, writing, and dreaming.
I remember early in my career someone filled in my feedback form with the suggestion that I should be more friendly before the show. They very logically concluded that since I was so dynamic on stage and NOT at all dynamic beforehand that I must have seemed rather "stand-off-ish" or aloof. The truth is that I would always be as dynamic and personable and funny off-stage as I am on-stage if they would give me a script four months before hand and then follow their lines.
But alas, conversations don't work this way unless all your friends are puppets (most of mine are). So I do the best I can. I really like people and enjoy talking to them and listening to them. I just don't do it with the same vigor and excitement that happens on stage.
So, if you catch me off-stage, don't be afraid to grab me by the arm and say hello. I'd love to sit and talk about your favorite author. Just don't expect me to come up with something witty to say.